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Tom Scudamore: “I’m very confident in Extra Mag’s chance in the Imperial Cup.”

Tom Scudamore | 8 March 2019

Latest insight from our racing ambassador

Cheltenham

I think I have three or four decent chances already next week. Thistlecrack in the Gold Cup is clearly the big one as is West Approach in the Stayers Hurdle.

I also have Champers On Ice in the Pertemps and Eamon An Cnoic in the Grand Annual. Then it’s a case of seeing who runs where and what rides I pick up.

For example I’ve won on Vision Des Flos a couple of times so I’m hoping I might keep the ride on him but obviously Robbie Power has a great association with the owners so I’ll wait and see on that. So it’s a waiting game really and it’s the same for everyone.

Laurina in the Champion Hurdle

In the Champion Hurdle I keep coming back to Laurina. Strictly on form she has a bit to find but the way that she’s beaten everything she really could be the fly in the ointment.

Apple’s Jade, however good she is, she has still been beaten twice at the Festival in the Triumph Hurdle and in the Mares Hurdle last year. She’s brilliant and any mare that can win against the boys over trips from two miles to three is clearly hugely talented but is she a Champion Hurdler? I don’t think so.

Buveur D’Air is the best horse in the race on paper, and has won two Champion Hurdles. If he wins three he’ll be a great horse, but I wouldn’t have him in the same bracket as Istabraq, Persian War and See You Then.

You wouldn’t imagine the likes of them being beaten by a horse like Verdana Blue, for all she’s a cracking mare.

Stayers’ Hurdle no walk in the park for Paisley

I think Altior will win the Champion Chase. Paisley Park is fabulous but does he deserve to be a 6/4 shot? I’m not so sure. There’s plenty of strength and depth in the race.

Black Op will improve for his Cleeve run. Which Faugheen will turn up? Is it the one that blitzed the field at Punchestown? Every now and then he turns up and if he was to turn up on Thursday for a last hoorah then he could figure.

Paisley Park has clearly improved since being stuffed in last year’s Albert Bartlett but has he improved enough to win the Stayers Hurdle? I don’t know.

Thistlecrack one of four who can win Gold Cup

It’s a cracking Gold Cup. I’d be lying if I said Clan Des Obeaux doesn’t give me sleepless nights. He should be the outright favourite on what he’s achieved.

I wouldn’t be concerned about Presenting Percy’s preparation as the one thing Pat Kelly has proved is that he can train a racehorse. If he says Presenting Percy is ready then he will be ready.

My concern with him is that he’s only the sixth best racehorse in the race on ratings and Kemboy has been beating the same horses that he’s beaten but even easier.

There’s a mystique about Presenting Percy and everyone wants to believe he is a racehorse from the gods but to me his form suggests otherwise.

The way I see it there are four horses capable of winning the Gold Cup – Clan Des Obeaux, Native River, Kemboy and Thistlecrack.

Whichever one of those is in the best form on the day and jumps the best can win. If you are looking for an outsider I would respect Anibale Fly.

His run last time over 2m 4f was eyecatching. He’s been aimed at this race all year and ran well last year. The unknown is the ground at the moment. Everyone thinks it’s going to be soft and there’s plenty of rain to come.

In years gone by horses have been winning races on soft ground coming up to Cheltenham and then find faster ground at the Festival. This time it’s the complete opposite, and that can throw up funny results too.

Saturday – Sandown

1.20 – Glenpark

I ride Glenpark for my Dad. He is from the family of Sweet Duke, so Dad will get nostalgic and emotional about that.

It’s a nice ride to pick up. Sweet Duke was a real tough stayer and if this chap is like him then Sandown on soft ground will suit. He has some improvement to find but conditions should suit

2.25 – Extra Mag

I ride Extra Mag in the Imperial Cup. Precious Cargo bolted up on Friday and that didn’t do our form any harm at all. He is a really nice horse and he’s off a decent mark. His form has worked out really well so I’m feeling very confident in Extra Mag’s chance.

The horse that finished a long way behind us at Kempton last time of Hughie Morrison’s came out and hacked up at Wincanton. Extra Mag wasn’t seen to best effect that day in second but to see the form franked is very encouraging.

3.35 – Kansas City Chief

Kansas City Chief ran okay at Sandown last time but he wouldn’t be the most reliable of performers. We’ll see how he gets on.

Sunday – Warwick

3.25 – Max Do Brazil

I will be doing a rain dance all day Saturday and Sunday morning for him as it’s a case of the softer ground the better. If it gets really soft then he will have a good chance.

He ran well at Lingfield first time out, then ran okay at Ffos Las last time but it really is a case of the softer ground the better for his chance on Sunday.

5.00 – Whitley Neil

He’s coming back off a break. He won around Exeter last season and has been running well in defeat the last couple of times, so would have a chance. That said the handicapper has him where he wants him.

5.30 – Story of Friends

He won an interesting Point to Point very impressively in Ireland. There was a horse of Gigginstown’s that fell at the last ditch that day and he has form since behind Envoi Allen, the favourite for the Champion Bumper.

The second horse came out and won at Sedgefield last Sunday. Story Of Friends has been going well at home, his Point to Point form is working out well and even allowing for Extra Mag in the Imperial Cup I would go as far as to say that Story of Friends is my best ride of the weekend.

Tom